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W h e r e  i s  B l i s s ?

T h e s e s i x l u x u r y g e taway s e a c h c e l e b r at e
r e a l e x p e r i e n c e s , d e e p e r b o n d s a n d b e tt e r ­l i v i n g
f o r t h e n e w y e a r . G o n o w. B e h a p p y.

Ph oto s b y Je n Ju d ge , Jo n W h it tl e a n d L o r i B a rb e ly

One blissful
escape: a villa on
Laucala in Fiji.

where is

F i j i = L au c a l a I s l a n d

Escaping Like a Billionaire

B y To n y Pe r r o t t e t 1(! when the concierge admits
me into a beachfront villa 10
Then the moment I’m alone, I let out
a whoop of proletarian joy. I pop open
times the size of a “villa” as I know it, the bottle of bubbly, jump in the pool,
gesturing to light shades made from hun- jump back out of the pool, dash down
dreds of snow-white butterfly cocoons to the beach and throw myself into
and bathtubs carved from polished slabs my personal piece of the South Pacific.
of granite, I try to feign a billionaire’s Everything has to be enjoyed at once.
nonchalance. Here on Fiji’s private I run back to the villa and devour an
Laucala Island, she shows me how the amuse-bouche of spiced Thai shrimp
villa — which took the tradition of the and fresh cashews, turn on both flat-
Fijian bure, a wood and thatch hut, to screen TVs, blast myself with Bach on
glamorous new heights — opens the- the iPod sound system and then rush
atrically onto my own swimming pool from room to room taking hundreds of
and a quiet golden-sand beach. She photos. At last, I sink in a jet-lagged stu-
reveals a designer wine chiller stocked por onto a daybed under coconut trees.
with complimentar y Champagne. Adjusting my watch to Fiji time, I
Yes, with a capital “C.” I remain calm. find it’s only 8:30 a.m. Malcolm Forbes
once owned this succulent green piece
of Fiji, now a new, no-expense-spared
luxury resort. But for the next 122 hours
With a history of and 35 minutes, it is mine, all mine. And
billionaire o
­ wners, I mean to revel in every second.
this newly updated Most people might be happy to spend
private island
has perhaps the days, even weeks, lounging in their vil-
best scenery and las on Laucala. But seductive as that
service that money is, I know it wouldn’t be long before I
can buy.
was itching to explore the 7-mile-long
island, which from the air had seemed
mysterious and wild, ringed by a halo
of pale-blue reef. After all, Laucala isn’t
just any billionaire’s refuge.
If a history of private islands is ever
written, Laucala will feature promi-
nently. Forbes, then the planet’s rich-
est man, purchased it for $1 million
in 1972, and its otherworldly beauty
became part of pop mythology. The
world watched with envy every winter
as he flew his jet, the Capitalist Tool, to
Fiji’s main airport, Nadi, then changed
to his light plane, the Capitalist Tool II,
to reach Laucala’s airstrip. Forbes kept
the facilities rustic: a basic house for
himself, plus seven guest bungalows.
Yet Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth
Taylor arrived frequently for fabulous

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beach parties. The flashy billionaire

kept a yacht for circumnavigating
the island and a Harley-Davidson for
touring the rough roads at high speed.
He grew to love Laucala so much that
he asked his family to bury his ashes
here. When he died in 1990, Forbes’
family did as he wished.
Since then, the island’s ownership has
passed to another billionaire, Dietrich
Mateschitz, creator of Red Bull. Dated
Forbes-era buildings were razed. “For
me, privacy is quality,” the publicity-shy
Mateschitz once explained. He turned
Laucala into the ultimate South Pacific
The Forbes era retreat: 25 luxury villas, five restaurants,
has led to an even a spa, a horse stable and an 18-hole golf
richer present, course. Opened just a year ago, the
with the resort’s
new villas, cuisine resort is a self-contained world, with an
and spa ­treatments organic farm, a grandiose working jetty,
featuring the
natural treasures
air hangars and more. Once revived, an 1(! from the wild and crazy 1970s. “No,
old coconut plantation will produce oil there’s nothing left from the Forbes
here in Fiji.
and cosmetics. Laucala boasts the big- The resort is a days,” Maja says with a shrug. Then she
gest swimming pool in the Southern
Hemisphere, with a glass, above-ground
self-contained ­ponders. “Well, almost nothing.”
After a bit of cajoling, Maja drives me
lap pool that lets passers-by view swim- world that echoes up a steep, meandering laneway into the
mers gliding back and forth as if in an
aquarium. Crafted from native wood,
the surrounding rainforest. We pull up in front of a plush
double villa with 360-degree views of
thatch and twine, Laucala’s unique, landscape. Laucala the voluptuous island. Far below, the
sometimes mildly eccentric structures
echo the surrounding landscape.
has seduced me. South Pacific seems so clear you can
almost see the turtles nosing their way
“Money is not an issue at Laucala,” says through the reef ’s coral canyons. “This
Maja Kilgore, a German who now man- was the site of Forbes’ house,” she says.
ages the resort with husband Thomas. “If bullets. It carries me to an underwater “They say it was the view from this spot
something needs to be done, we do it.” world that seems to have been tended by that convinced Mr. Forbes he should
Luckily for me, that principle extends a celestial gardener. I explore the coral- buy Laucala.” The original structure has
to helping guests responsibly delve into encrusted rim of a shelf that drops into vanished, but we stroll over to a grove
nature. One day, I hop on a Jet Ski that an eerie darkness 1,800 feet deep while of coconut trees and a cracked marble
belongs in New York’s Museum of brilliant tropical fish, white-tipped reef memorial embedded in the earth. Below
Modern Art and bob around the island, sharks and barracuda idly nose by. the name Malcolm Stevenson Forbes
watching turtles skim the coral alongside Laucala has seduced me. I love this and the dates of his birth and death, it
me. The next day, I board a dive boat new world in which light aircraft carry reads, “While Alive He Lived.”
that sports the curved seats of a 1930s guests from Fiji’s main island and I carry that sentiment back down
pleasure craft on Italy’s Lake Como shiny Land Rovers whisk them to their to my villa, where more Champagne
and polished tanks like gleaming silver ­v illas. But surely some relic survives is already there on ice. |

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J a m a ic a = K a n o pi Ho u s e

Swinging from the Treehouse

B y C h r i s Ta u b e r 1(! he steps off the tree branch
into the air. From teeth to toes,
water next to me, “this is awesome!”
The exclamation points are every-
he’s radiating the giddiness of a kid where. This trip is exceeding my
doing something his dad told him never half-joking goal: to take the ultimate
to do. “Hold on tight, Vic,” I always say. father-son trip. That’s why here on
But today in Jamaica, it’s “Jump, Vic!” the coast outside Port Antonio, we’re
He plunges 10 feet straight down staying in a treehouse in a jungle of
from the almond tree. His arms pin- f lat snails and green firef lies. That
wheel, his legs flail. He makes no effort it’s a two-story luxury treehouse, one
to brace for impact except to tilt his of only five carefully tucked among
smiling face toward me. Splash! Up the trees at the eco-minded Kanopi
twice as high in the tree, the two dread- House retreat? Icing. That the man-
locked Jamaican boys cheer; then they ager, Carla, has two sons — nicknamed
follow Vic with their own jumps into the Beenie Man and Bounty — who are
lagoon, feinting ninja moves all the way showing Vic more than I can about the
from the overhanging branches down to joys of being a boy? Pure awesomeness.
the cool water. “Dad,” Vic says, treading Tree-diving is only the beginning

Kanopi House’s
five treehouses are
wrapped so fully
in the Jamaican
jungle that they’re
invisible from the
air, the road and the
water. Yet father
and son can look
out and see more
than ever.

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today. From the lagoon at the base of

Kanopi House, we all hop into a boat
for a quick scenic ride along the shore,
past Alligator Head, Monkey Island
(“You have to be a monkey to climb
there,” Beenie Man says knowingly) and
Dragon Bay. When we motor within 15
feet of a snorkeler, Bounty waves and
yells, “Hi, Daddy!” Without raising his
head, the snorkeler waves back with the
hand not holding the spear gun. Bounty
says he’s looking for our dinner: fresh
parrotfish. “Whoa,” Vic says.
He’s still thinking about that as we
hang out in the “Living Room,” an over-
size, no-walls treehouse. It’s a gathering
place for plantain breakfasts, fish-fritter
1(! brothers are doing. And at this moment,
snacks and afternoon paper airplanes.
That last one is not an official offering;
The three boys’ they’re darting upstream to a boulder
for some mini-cliff diving. I know he
it’s my idea. In all other ways, Beenie smiles are all the won’t be able to swim against even the
Man and Bounty are putting Vic’s Boy
Scout handbook to shame. But when
same. In the Living gentle current, but I grudgingly let Vic
jump in. Carla says, “Let him learn to be
it comes to knowing how to make the Room, exhausted tired with a bit of danger.” Beenie Man
“Glider 3000,” I can finally show them
something. All three boys race around
by everything, and Bounty see Vic swimming hard but
not getting closer. They tell him to get
the Living Room launching planes. my son conks out on on the bank, then they help him navi-
Amazingly, none (planes or boys) fly
over the balcony into the banyan trees.
a white chaise. gate the rocks and find a shallow spot in
the river where he can make his way to
But a few flights do veer. From the steps the boulder. Much jumping ensues. The
leading up to the Living Room, we hear, three boys’ smiles are all the same.
“What is this on the roof of the kitchen?!” bring sweet loving.” Beenie Man and When we parents call them back to the
Time to get in the car. We’re about Bounty, with Carla, are supposed to be rafts as the light gets dusky, Beenie Man
to become Caribbean Huck Finns. A on the raft behind us. But they don’t sit. says, “Vic, come with us.” He looks at me,
winding drive inland through the Blue One minute, they’re Jamaican water- I nod, and he walks away. Fifteen seconds
The no-walls, Mountain foothills leads to the Rio bugs, flitting in and out of the water later I hear Vic tell them: “I’m gonna go
social treehouse Grande — and Capt. Rebbo’s bamboo alongside us. The next, they’re bolting with my dad.” Most awesome thing ever.
known as the Living
Room is ideal for raft. Vic and I take our seat for the along the banks like gazelles, sprint- In the Living Room that night, stuffed
a break after an four-hour glide down the river, follow- ing across breadfruit-size stones faster with fish and exhausted by everything,
all-boys day with ing the old banana route from planta- than I can run on pavement. Vic conks out on a white chaise. I pick
Bounty, Vic and
Beenie Man. tion to port as Rebbo sings, “When Rebbo lets Vic play gondolier, but him up for the walk back to our treehouse,
Vic is a big man and he has a girlfriend, all he really wants to do is whatever the holding on tight. | k anopihouse .com

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B e r m u da = C a m b r i d g e B e ac h e s R e s o r t

Delighting in Her Happy Day “Maybe these girls — with their color-coordinated
By Lori Barbely 1(! “so, what ar e the rules?”
My mom gives me that look only
“Tea?” I offer here on British soil.
Mom has other ideas. “Coffee?” Sure.
outfits and luxurious agendas — will also channel
a mother can. “I thought you knew.” We follow the wandering path the restorative.”
Playing croquet was my idea, but I through the precious pink cottages of
assumed my mom would know how. Cambridge Beaches Resort and arrive at
We settle on our own rules: smack- the main house. Afternoon tea (or cof-
ing balls around the manicured lawns, fee) is served on the wicker-furnished
attempting in vain to get them through sun porch, overlooking the infinity
the tiny wickets, whacking each other’s pool. The only thing that feels out of
balls into oblivion when they collide. place in the room is us. A tiny cucumber
Finally, I declare her the winner. sandwich ends up on the floor. Mom
We’re here to celebrate her birthday, ­d issolves into laughter as I glance
and I want to make it special. While I around, secretively placing the delicate
was growing up, she threw me count- sandwich into my linen napkin.
less birthday parties — roller ­skating, As we walk off the scone calories,
slumber parties, really whatever I we come across a red floor-to-ceiling
wanted. I always felt great, indulged. wall inscribed with hundreds of names. Cambridge
“Who are all these people?” she asks. ­Beaches show-
As if on cue, Richard, the general cases classic
Bermuda, from the
manager, appears in Bermuda shorts. dining to the high
“These are our repeat guests,” he says. tea to the sands,
“One has been here 88 times.” sounds and scoot-
ers that make the
I’m not sure if we’ll make the wall island so inviting.
when, an hour later, I’m yelling, “Paddle
harder!” Our kayak is drifting with the
wind away from the coastline we’re try-
ing to hug. Mom wanted to take out a
kayak. My shoulders now throb as I dig
in, trying to keep us on course.
“I’m paddling as hard as I can!” she
yells back. This doesn’t feel like a party.
Then we round the point and see
the beach we were sunning on earlier. I
don’t dare tell her I liked that better; I’m
afraid she’s thinking the same thing. But
she paddles with the wind now. “This is
nice,” she says, and suddenly, I feel great
again. Who’s indulging whom?
Too tired to embrace the luxurious
formality of Tamarisk, the resort’s signa-
ture restaurant, we eat on the beach, the
perfect reward for a hard day of relaxing.
The waiter serves our freshly grilled fish
as the sun sets. Mom asks, “Think we’ll
ever have our names on the wall?”
I hope so. |

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C a p r i = W i n d s ta r C ru i s e

Sailing Into
∏rue Blue
B y Ji m S c h u l e r

1(! on capri’s clifftops above

us, Emperor Tiberius made his
home away from Rome. Possibly struck
by vacation boredom, he threw victims to
their deaths down into the sea. Almost
2,000 years later, our travel amusements
have changed. As my wife, Marvel, and
I float in a classic wooden gozzo just off-
shore, the only bodies we want to throw
into the sparkling water are our own.
We do agree with the emperor on the
best way to hopscotch along the Italian
coast: a sailing ship. Ours, the Wind Surf, is
just out of sight around a bend in Capri’s
limestone shore. At 600 feet long, the
five-masted Windstar Cruises flagship
was built as the world’s largest sailing
vessel. Compared to the average cruise
ship, Wind Surf, with its 300-­passenger
capacity — not 3,000 — is downright
intimate. We didn’t want a cruise as a
destination; we wanted the right ship to
take us where we wanted to go.
Two days into our weeklong voyage
from Rome to island to coast to island
to coast to Rome again, I’m feeling
pretty smug about our choice. Had we
not shanghaied ourselves onto the Wind
Surf, we’d be on a mass group excursion
overwhelming a port with the stink of
cocoa butter and
shopping sweat.
The five-masted Instead , we ’ve
Wind Surf sailing
vessel takes in the already anchored
majesty of Capri off the stunning
during a quietly island beaches of
elegant island-
hopping cruise off Ischia, and now
Italy’s coast. we’re euphoric

where is

“We will go to the small blue grotto,”

he says to distract me. I’ve only heard
of the famous Blue Grotto, the cave
that attracts a line of boats wanting
a peek. “It’s just as beautiful, but no
crowds, no wait. What do you think?”
He already knows the answer.
Soon we pass under the shadows of the
Faraglioni, the famous rock formations
that thrust out of the water like the tips
of a giant trident. Then Christian steers
us up to a tiny opening in the cliff that,
like its larger namesake, captures and
reflects sunlight so that the water inside
The blue grot-
toes famous and glows like an incandescent sapphire.
not, fresh seafood Marvel and I raise our sunglasses, test-
served at sail, and ing the surreal color, and then gasp again.
excursions off the
beaten paths and Christian points out sites that have
waters — all of been spotted, interpreted and reimag-
it adds up to one ined through 2,000 years of tourism,
happy cruise.
and we feel like we’re discovering them
with our own eyes. “Look,” he says, ges-
1(! with relaxation having sailed to Capri. turing at a large gray rock perched on
Our next island port, Corsica, will a cliff. “An elephant — do you see it?”
Our top speed is require a full day’s sail. With wind and And farther along the coast he pulls the
about as fast as a engines, our top speed is just 15 knots,
about as fast as a breeze. Fortunately,
boat up to a rocky shelf at the bottom of
a stone stairway leading into a shallow
breeze — not strong that’s not strong enough to topple Le cave. “Up there,” he says, pointing, “is
enough to topple Plateau de Fruits de Mer, the tower
of lobster, mussels and other sea-
a stalagmite like the Madonna.” But we
don’t need the symbology to be awed by
the seafood tower. food, served on the Star Deck. And the geology. Or any more reason than
it shouldn’t jostle the 10 masseuses in the Faraglioni in the distance to under-
the onboard WindSpa either. stand the archetypal pull of this place.
This gozzo we’re on seems faster, but We tune out everything but the here
still in the Wind Surf ’s spirit of serene and now. The sun is high and hot, the
exploration. Christian, the smiling water clear and blue. Christian anchors
teenager whose father owns the boat the boat in a small bay. “Le Sirenuse,”
we’ve booked for this Blue Grotto Tour he says, pointing out the home of the
shore excursion, maneuvers the gozzo Sirens, whose songs lured sailors into
in and out of the shore’s small grottoes the rocky shores. Odysseus, already
with a hummingbird’s precision. He behind schedule, wanted to listen but
keeps one casual hand on the tiller, a not visit, so he ordered his crew to stuff
prehensile foot controlling the ­throttle. their ears with beeswax, set a course
Wind and waves push the gleaming and tie him to the mast. Bad choice.
wood hull within inches of the rocks, It’s better when you’re out sailing to
but it never touches. Christian sees me give yourself over to the sea, I think, as we
catching my breath and grins. throw ourselves in. |

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P h i l i ppi n e s = A m a n p u l o

Finding Snapper and Sparks

By Aaron Gulley

1(! my wife may selflessly say

otherwise, but women have
We ask for a private breakfast, and
the resort produces an orgy of omelets
burst like underwater pyrotechnics.
Friendly hawksbill turtles fin up close
expectations on a wedding anniversary. and buttery croissants, blazing fuchsia for a look, almost as if to fulfill their
I know she daydreamed of a lush isle dragon fruit and fresh-squeezed mango amiable Filipino obligations.
where she could plunge into crystal- juice, all delivered by boat to a secluded And then there’s the fishing. Beneath
line seas erupting with outlandish fish, palapa and laid out on crisp linen with a bruised sky threatening rain, we
emerge onto a secluded deck beneath heavy silver. We call about diving, and ­venture out with two guides who pull
flame bursts of bougainvillea blossoms, when we turn up at the shop a bit later, fish from the sea like they’re reeling up
and gorge on lobster and flutes of Duval- we find that our gear has been taken buckets of water from the ocean. There’s
Leroy. So I brought her to Amanpulo, from our room and prepped. In the faintly crimson snapper, amberjack that
where the reality is even better than the glassy water, blasts of reef fish pop and gleam like sabers, escolar ­shimmering
dream. This private island resort adrift a luminescent black. Out comes a
in the Philippines stirs in silky kimono 1(! ­magnificent, glistening grouper as big
robes, at-your-beck massages and a as my arm. My wife catches a couple of
two’s-company floating bar. We wake I did it all for her. fish too. Meanwhile, I couldn’t catch a
each morning in our hilltop bungalow
to sweeping views over a collar of blaze- If there’s a better baseball lobbed at me underhand, but
I’m perfectly content just watching the
white beach bathed in coral hues of dawn. place in the world distant squalls ripple the ocean.
And I can say I did it all for her.
If there’s a better place in the world for reigniting deep Over dinner that night, my wife
presents an unexpected anniversary gift:
for reigniting deep affection, I can’t affection, I can’t a foot-long mackerel she caught herself,
picture it. Even the transfer from
Manila, a one-hour charter on a twin- picture it. which the chef has diced into kinilaw, the
Philippines’ coconut-tinged answer to
turboprop Dornier, was exhilarating, ceviche. And just like that, I’m hooked
knifing like a high-dollar ­a ssassin all over again. | a m a n r e s o r t s .co m
t h roug h m ig ht y c u mu lon i mbu s
crackling with lightning, then diving
perilously close to the blue sea before
skidding down a spit of gravel. Then
there’s the golf cart, issued on arrival to
negotiate the tiny island’s web of dirt
roads. A BMW X6 it’s not, but there’s
real sport in pushing the buggy’s two-
wheel tipping threshold.
To calm both of us, there’s the Thai
­pressure-point reflexology session and
The staff delivers gata coco scrub. We get the treatments
what you want be- and totter from the spa in a sedated state
fore you want it at
Amanpulo, whether of stupefaction. Of course, the experi-
it’s dragon fruit in ence was all that — the Philippines is a
a beach palapa or country obsessed with hospitality the
yoga better than
you’ve imagined. way the Swiss are consumed by privacy
and the French are beset by cheese.
where is

M au i = Ho t e l H a n a-M au i

Climbing the
Road to Heaven
By Adrienne Egolf

1(! Huelo Lookout
the hand-painted sign for
caught our atten-
tion before the view. Now we can see
jungle spreading out from the viewpoint,
green swaths punctuated with the reds,
yellows and blues from the sign, and
we’re happy we stopped — again. We’re
20 miles and one hour into a 52-mile
drive down the Hana Highway. My
husband and I are still soggy from this
morning’s dive at Molokini crater, and
our usual post-dive nap is calling. But
this is Maui; there’s a lot to see. So
instead of rushing to the end of this
well-worn road, my husband has pulled
over and snapped the camera every time
I’ve squealed over a dramatic cliff or a
colorful fruit stand. Until a question
occurs to him: “What’s at the end?” he
asks through a stifled yawn.
“What do you mean?” I reply. “It’s the
Road to Hana. Hana is at the end. Look!
Another waterfall!” He pulls over, again.
We don’t realize how much more there
is to Hana until we drive over the last of
the more than 54 one-way bridges. Our
legs are crumpled into car-seat-shaped
curls. Our eyes are weary from peering
around every corner for a better look.
Our stomachs growl, that last pineapple
shave ice now an hour-old memory.
Then the road widens. We pass a fire
Like a manicured station with one sleepy-looking engine,
oasis, the Hotel a primary school with a marquee boast-
Hana-Maui spreads
luxuriously across ing “In the Heart of Old Hawaii,” a bus-
the hills at the tling farmers market peddling bundles
end of the Road to of fruit and flowers. The marks of a
Hana. Don’t drive
back. Stay. small island town tell us we’ve arrived,
magnificently, in Hana. The queue of

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Black sands, big

rooms and open
land that begs you
to explore — yes,
this is an island
where you can
find bliss.

rented convertibles has thinned, dis- 1(! we sip organic dark-roast coffee and
persed among turns toward black-sand eat banana bread and fruit from nearby
beaches. Instead of high-rise resorts, We take in the Ono Organic Farms. The grounds are
there’s Hotel Hana-Maui blending seam-
lessly into the town. Its green plantation-
quiet, quaint glory. quiet, not just because it’s dawn, but
because everyone here is enjoying the
style cottages stand beside the Hana At the end of our same peaceful start to the morning.
Community Center, the municipal base-
ball field, the Hasegawa General Store
road trip, this place By the time the sun has risen fully,
we’ve made our plans for the day — hike
and the local church. So as we unfold is like heaven. And to Waimoku Falls, picnic at Hamoa
from the car and enter the resort’s open-
air lobby, we take in the town at once —
we have a room. Beach, stop at the town center to mail
postcards and browse the shops. It’s a
in all its quaint, quiet glory. At the end full agenda, with plenty more miles to
of our three-hour-plus road trip, this log and plenty more photos to take.
place is like heaven. And we have a room. on the slatted-wood porch, we survey the We stand up from our lounge chairs,
We’re led to an ocean-facing bunga- ocean as a canoe-load of local paddlers ready to break the morning’s spell. But
low, where we learn that a baseball team passes and a cluster of roosters crows in first, we stop and look around: A group
originally owned the property. Once the distance. The 47 photo-op stops and practicing yoga poses in the eastern-facing
just a warm destination for spring train- fruit-stand perusals were only buildup; Wellness Center Pavilion just up the hill.
ing, Hana became an annual vacation for this is why we drove all that way. A couple strolls hand in hand on the lawn
players and wives. Over time, six rooms The next day, I open my eyes to below, and unseen birds fill the coconut
turned into 70 bungalows, but the town the rising sun, as I have every morn- palms with a song. “Maybe one more cup
of less than 1,000 people stayed much ing since arriving on Maui. Except this of coffee?” my husband asks. I collapse
the same. The bellhop leaves us, now time there’s no alarm to switch off, no back in my chair and hold up my cup for a
decorated in matching kukui-nut leis and tour guide waiting for us, no schedule refill. When you wake up in heaven, even
refreshed with cool fruit drinks. Standing to keep. As the light floods our room, Maui can wait.

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